Response to disaster defines community

Buggy charm by Bruce Stambaugh
A horse and buggy rolled by some snapped off trees north of Charm, Ohio.

By Bruce Stambaugh

If anyone ever wanted a snapshot of what defines this community, the beehive of activity in the aftermath of the storm that recently hit the Charm, Ohio area would perfectly frame that picture.

No sooner had the trees plummeted onto homes, buildings and roadways, than residents were out and about checking on one another. With the good fortune of finding no injuries, the cleanup began in earnest.

Helping hands by Bruce Stambaugh
Neighbors pitched in immediately to help clean up the debris left by the severe thunderstorm.

Four-wheelers, tractors, Bobcats, track hoes, and even monster skid loaders ran up and down skinny township roads. Their drivers and passengers stopped to assist wherever help was needed.

A man driving through the area just happened to have his chain saw in his pickup. With trees in his way, he did the logical thing. He cranked up his chain saw and began cutting. Drivers of a trio of semitrailers lined up behind him exited their cabs and joined in. He sawed. They pulled the limbs aside.

That proactive scenario was repeated a multitude of times throughout the Charm area. The volunteers weren’t asked to do this important work. They simply did so because it needed to be done, and they had the tools and the talent to do it. More than that, the desire to assist their neighbors in need drove them into action.

This was no time to feel sorry for yourself. Those receiving the aid worked side-by-side with the volunteers.

The response to this latest calamity in Holmes County was immediate and spontaneous, as it always seems to be no matter where the misfortune happens. Whether it’s a fire, devastating illness, serious flood or a severe thunderstorm, citizens come to the aid of others. Time and again people automatically go above and beyond the call of duty.

Barn destroyed by Bruce Stambaugh
My friends' barn roof was ripped off by the microburst.

My wife and I got caught up in the flurry of activity in Charm. We went to check on the property of friends who live near Charm but were on vacation. The 80 mph microburst winds ripped the roof off their small barn and scattered anything not nailed down for hundreds of yards.

What we witnessed as we made our way to and from the farmstead was truly amazing, though not unexpected. In disasters like this, citizens in Holmes County by and large do the right thing. No police supervision was needed.

Road crews by Bruce Stambaugh
Residents, neighbors and road crews pitched in to clear roadways.

An hour and a half after the storm, roadways had been cleared of giant trees and other debris strewn by the incredible hurricane-force, straight-line winds. Houses, too, were already being repaired.

Everywhere we went people and machines were working to clean up the mess. They didn’t call the fire department. They didn’t wait on road crews, though at least one township had its personnel out clearing roads.

People saw the needs, and their inherent work ethic simply kicked in. The cleanup was on. Strangers helped strangers. Friends helped friends. It was a marvelous operation to observe and be a part of.

House damage by Bruce Stambaugh
This house sustained heavy damage from the large pines blown onto it.

One particular setting ideally modeled both the community spirit and gracious gratitude. Hands that had cut up a large severed pine gathered around a picnic table. Grateful hands placed offerings of nourishing food for the thoughtful helpers. Together they shared a simple meal. Kindness is contagious.

By any definition, that is how a community is supposed to work and commune. That scene has been duplicated many times in the past, and most likely will be again in any future adversity that hits our rural haven.

Author: Bruce Stambaugh

Writer, marketer, columnist, author, photographer, birder, walker, hiker, husband, father, grandfather, brother, son, township trustee, converted Anabaptist, community activist, my life is crammed with all things people and nature and wonder. My late father gave me this penchant for giving and getting the most out of life, my late mother the courtesy, kindness, and creativity to see the joy in life. They both taught me to cherish the people I am with. I try and fail and try again.

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